Monday, June 15, 2009

what would shirley maclaine say?

This morning Charlie had to participate in a training session for work, so I took the kids to Sea World for a few hours.

Since a number of schools let students out for summer break last week, and the nightly firework show began this past weekend, Sea World was a mad house on this beautiful Monday morning. There were buses dropping people off and lines were already forming outside many of the exhibits and rides by 10 AM.

Our first stop was to Wild Arctic, which houses the walrus, polar bears ... and quite possibly my all-time favorite marine mammal, the beluga whale.

While we were standing below the water line, behind the thick glass, I noticed that there were several people within the beluga whale tank dressed in wetsuits, clearly participating in one of the "behind the scenes" programs that Sea World offers.

The behind-the-scene participants were standing on a small ledge in shallow water and I could tell that the whale trainers were talking to them ... probably about beluga whale habits and habitat and migration and diet ... while they flipped fish to the whales and patted their heads and bodies.

My four children were all on foot and when the triplets ran to stand on a step at the observation window, Henry was toddling about. I picked him up and placed him on the small step next to his siblings - and through the water - at least 50 feet away, he could see the beluga whale bodies that were partially submerged below the water.

"WHALE!" he yelled out.

The word no sooner left his 23-month old mouth and one of the beluga whales that had been eating handfuls of fish, dove below the water and swam - as fast as I've ever seen a beluga whale swim - directly to the glass window where my children were standing. It pushed it's nose against the window in to the exact location where Henry was holding his outstretched hand.

Then, it stayed there.

It stayed there long enough for me to grab my camera, turn off the flash and take several pictures. It stayed there long enough for all the other visitors that were in the observation area to come running over and stand behind my children and exclaim, "WOW! THAT IS SO COOL!" and "WOULD YOU LOOK AT THAT!!"

The beluga whale continued to push it's head in to the glass - while my children laughed - and then, it turned and rolled against the glass window directly in front of us, for several more seconds, before swimming around the tank twice and rejoining the behind-the-scene participants and it's bucket of fish.

I've been to Sea World no less than 50 times in the past few years and I've seen how friendly the beluga whales are. I know that these are social creatures. But I have never seen anything like what I saw, today. So while I stood there speechless and feeling like we had just experienced something truly amazing, my daughter Elizabeth looked up at me and said, "That was my grandmother."

"What?" I asked.

"That was my grandmother!" she repeated.

"Your grandmother?" I inquired, incredulously. "What do you mean, THAT was your grandmother?"

She looked at me very matter-of-factly and said, "That was my Grandma Jeanne."

My jaw dropped open before I asked, "Your Grandma Jeanne is a beluga whale?"

She laughed and said, "Yes. Henry called her. But now she's gone back to the clouds. God didn't know what to do with her!"

While I stood there pondering the significance of this for a moment, William said, "She just wanted to meet us." And then Carolyn added, "So we had a meeting."


Pardon the pun, but was this just a fluke? And by fluke, I mean a chance occurrence. (Not either of the two horizontally flattened divisions of the tail of a whale.)

Or, was this a true spiritual encounter?

As for now, I'm planning to categorize this post under my "Soul Food" label. But short of contacting a psychic or Shirley Maclaine, I think I need some insight.

I welcome any explanations for this experience.

Your interpretation begins in...





  1. THAT IS AWESOME! Kids are known to be wonderful mediums. I have read many books on the subject. This post just makes me so happy!

  2. nope. no fluke. Elizabeth has a key.

  3. wow, that is pretty amazing. i have chills.

  4. Ummm...miracle?

    I don't know! But that is pretty amazing. I got goose bumps.

  5. Wow - first the amazing pics, then the spiritual connection. This is a truly unique, wonderful story!

  6. Wow, Henry is the REAL "Whale Rider." (You remember that movie, don't you? The little New Zealand girl star got a best supporting actress nomination.)

  7. Wow. Amazing. And I'm so glad you captured it on film, and in your blog. That was truly special. And you sweet children...what an experience!

  8. WOW!! I've had a couple of rough days, very little sleep, etc. etc., and this post certainly gave me a positive start to my day! Very cool.

  9. Wow how amazing! I think your kids are on the right track. I have chill just thinking about it. What a cool experience and you got photos as well:)

  10. With all the wild miracles that God has done (water to wine?, parting the Red Sea?, bringing Lazarus back from the dead?), I'd say he's fairly unconventional and could very well use a Beluga Whale to bring children and their grandmother together!

    God doesn't fit into any of the boxes that we try to fit him into, that's for sure, so we'd better keep our eyes open for opportunities to see him or we might miss cool that you guys had such an incredible encounter...maybe God was using Sea World to say "See, World?" (okay, that's probably going too far...!)

  11. That is SO COOL! I don't know much about whales, the after life, mediums and such, but it seems like something extra amazing happened there. So glad you had your camera to capture the moments. I keep getting the shivers thinking about it! What did Charlie say about it?!

  12. WOW. That was cool even before the whole Grandma thing!
    Kids are good at this stuff. Who knows, I'd choose to believe if I were you. :)

  13. What a great experience and I think Elizabeth felt the spirit of her grandmother. I am so glad you caught it on film. I bet it picked up your spirit. Truth is stranger than fiction.

  14. I have no idea about the spirit of their grandmother - it certainly isn't for me to say one way or the other.

    But, MAN! I would call that a spiritual experience just because that creature socialized with them like it did. What a sweet sweet memory. So glad you had your camera.

  15. Oh my word. I have chills.

  16. Yes, I would absolutely believe her.

    I absolutely believe that our souls go to heaven after we die and we DO have guardian angels watching over us and can come to us in our dreams, however with children, they don't need to dream to see/feel them.

    A couple of examples....

    6 months after my grandma died, she came to me in a dream and told me that she was watching over me and my grandpa. Around christmastime of that same year, we had been looking for the "christmas train" that had always been brought out. My grandma came to me in my dream that night and told me where it was and sure enough the next day when I called my sister and told her where to look, it was there.

    My mom died about 4 1/2 years ago. My niece was able to feel her and hear her for a VERY long time. I also had my mom come to me in my dream as well.

    It's real.

    Believe it.

  17. Wow, that is amazing. I think that kids tend to be right about spiritual stuff like this because they are much closer to heaven than any adults are. Wow, just wow.

  18. Vicki Tauriello in NJ6/16/09, 9:50 AM

    Wow, isn't it wonderful how children perceive the after life? I lost my Grandmother in 1988, and miss her EVERY day. In my family, whenever we see a pink sky, we call each other and say "There she is!" Pink was her favorite color, and we feel when we see the pink sky, she is watching over us. You use whatever you can to take comfort in your loss. You are raising 4 wonderful children, so keep up the good work, and I love your blog! You and Charlie are great parents. It is evident in the little people you share stories about with us every day. Hugs!

  19. Well, you asked...

    Kids say a lot of random, weird stuff.
    My sister told my mother, when she was about three, four, that she had looked down on my mother from heaven and decided she wanted that family! My mother retold the story at a family gathering once, and my sister muttered to me, embarrassed: "Yeah, I wanted to say something she'd like."
    (I'm an atheist, though. Might affect my views, y'know?)

    The whale thing is pretty awesome though.

  20. Wow, total goosebumps. I would just say that children are open and pick up on things that adults never would.. I don't think anything is impossible.

    Now great pics (as always)! I'm so jealous you are close to these awesome places, we have to drive three hours to get to Sea World. *sigh* Totally jealous.

  21. I have such a wide smile on my face after reading this post. Your children were given a lovely gift by feeling the presence of their grandmother. And I'm glad you were able to capture it on film. If it had been me, I would have been so caught up looking at the beluga whale (they are my favorite, too), I would have completely forgotten that I had my camera.

    I am a firm believer in guardian angels. My grandfather passed away suddenly in 2001 and I wasn't able to give him one last hug or say goodbye. I just recently purchased his antiquarian book business from another family member. I find myself talking to my grandfather while wandering through the stacks of books he collected throughout his lifetime, and I swear I can feel him standing next to me and helping me find what I'm looking for. It's my little connection to him. And I know he's there with me in spirit.

    God works in mysterious ways. He was speaking to you and your children in a way only He could do. What a wonderful gift to have been given!!

  22. Amazing story and wonderful pictures...

    I'm with Elizabeth. He Grandma was there. :D

  23. Wow, very cool. I believe that kids are somehow more open to things and that you should not discount the idea!

  24. Uhm...well, before your cool kids declared the beluga their grandma, I was gonna say, that it looked mighty yummy.

    But...I won't. That's pretty awesome though.

    And, I went to SeaWorld Wild Arctic once, and had a huge argument with the management there, because of all the false information they were giving. Especially about Arctic Alaska...

    And, a few months later, I got a letter from some big-wig executive with tickets to the NEW and improved Wild Arctic, where the information was true to the best of their knowledge.

    I never did make it back though, sounds like I need to visit your children's grandma, and I promise I won't think about eating anything there.

    They don't look like that in the wild anyway. They're much more beautiful at Sea World.

  25. Cool experience! Even VERY cool. But miracle or spiritual encounter? Methinks not.

  26. What a neat story! I really enjoyed reading that, and seeing the pictures of Henry and the whale!

    I will not attempt to burden the experience with any kind of interpretation. I say enjoy it as it was.

    I will say, though, that other children I've known have done or said things that make me wonder if they're not more open to things that adults aren't (to put it vaguely).

  27. That story made me go all teary.(but a smiley teary) Thankyou for coming over and commenting so nicely on my blog. I will try to come back and read more of you later.. cheers Kim

  28. WOW! Neat story and great pictures. How Cool! Wow. I don't know. Perhaps Grandma's spirit was there - definately unique - look at Jonah and the whale... hmmm

    Either way I definately believe in guardian angels and have had a few spiritual experiences with my kids as well as my own.

    Talk to you soon. Love, Marg. (really, really neat)

  29. Those pictures are amazing !!!! What a moment. Celtic Lad senses his twin alot. And when the children talk about him more, I get the impression, they are *aware* of him.

    As we get older, I think we get more cynical or weighted with the things in this physical realm that we tune out of the spiritual.

  30. That was the coolest pictures. Sounds like something Amanda would say and I agree, very spiritual. I was just now laughing till I almost peed my pants, though, when I read that Finniskmo, the Eskimo, wants to eat your grandmother.

  31. Michele - I KNOW - when I saw that Finnskimo left a comment, I figured she was going to say something along the lines of, "Belugas are highly regarded in Alaska because of their connection to the spiritual world."

    I definitely wasn't expecting her to say, "Yippee!! PASS THE TARTAR SAUCE!!" :0


  32. I don't know what Shirley would say but I LOVE that picture with Henry and the whale... AMAZING! Seriously worthy of being framed!

  33. Wow. I am speechless. I believe it. What an amazing experience for you and your family. Consider yourself blessed. P.S. We were at Sea World Monday too...the one in Florida. But no belugas or grandmothers for us...=)

  34. COOOLLL, ELizabeth has a great gift! That was absolutely amazing, the pictures where breathtaking.

    Her assurance that the whale was her Grandma Jeanne sent chills up and down my spine.

    I hope you can find a way to nurture this gift as she grows older.

  35. Thanks for visiting my blog :)

    I am thankful that I returned the visit today otherwise I would have missed this post.

    I truly believe your kids had a meeting with their grandma :) How else would you explain what happened with the beluga whale (other than Henry speaks whale)?

    Beautiful story :)

  36. Wow, that is an amazing story.

    The way I look at it, either Elizabeth's interpretation is correct or Elizabeth has a very special, positive, spiritual way of looking at and interpreting the world around her. Either way, it's pretty awesome.


  37. That's because I'm AWESOME.

    And tartar sauce??? NO WAY. We eat ours with MUSTARD and salt. Mmmm. And sometimes, Tabasco.

    But definitely not your grandma!


    Anytime you wanna come visit.

  38. That pic. with Henry's hand and the whale looks like it belongs on an advertisement for them!

    VERY COOL and I'm sure a moment that won't soon forget.

    Did they share the Grandma story with Charlie??

  39. That is just so wonderful. I believe our children are so keyed into using that 6th sense.
    I love the story and I love the pictures.
    Beluga's are my favorite too.

    Thanks for visiting my blog leaving a comment.

  40. I read this on Monday and have been thinking about it EVER SINCE!!! It STILL gives me chills!!! Amazing! I started reading your blog (religiously I have to admit) when I became pregnant and my son is now 10 months old ... there have been so many times when I wanted to comment on your posts (OMG! THANK YOU for the sleep-school advice! He's been sleeping a solid 12 hours a night since he was 3,5 months old!!), but time always seems to slip away from me! I started my own blog a while ago and added your link to my favorites on it today... given that I figured I could not come up with another excuse not to post (if you'd rather have me remove the link, PLEASE let me know). So thanks for all of the laughs, the encouragements and the thoughts! I love checking in with you every day :)

  41. I've re read this a few times and I think to just take it at face value. If I remember rightly, the kids don't know her at all and if they felt that she had come to them in this form, and it hasn't freaked anyone out, then let it be what it was.

    I too have had experiences that give me chills, but so far, none have freaked me out too much.

  42. Not sure what to say on this one but it certainly is a beautiful story. I'm glad you shared it with us. Kids say the darndest and most wonderful things don't they?